TN School Education Department planning to change question paper pattern on the lines of entrance exams

Tamil Nadu schools

The Tamil Nadu School Education Department has taken the initiative to change question paper pattern for students from Class I to IX. From now onwards the students enrolled in private matriculation schools will have to answer more objective-type questions instead of detailed answers. These one-mark questions will become a part of all three term-end examinations and continuous evaluation process. This all is being done so as to groom the children for competitive exams such as JEE, CAT and NEET.

Another reason behind the implementation is with the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) being made mandatory for medical admissions from next year and Class X CBSE Board exams likely to be made mandatory, the department was contemplating a change in the question pattern at a much earlier stage.

A policy is being framed with the help of senior bureaucrats from the State Council for Educational Research and Training, Examination Department alongside the School Education Department.

As per the present system of school education which is followed in every school located in the territory, the assessment is carried out in two categories – formative (40 marks) and summative (60 marks). Only 20-25 per cent of questions in these term-end exams were objective type, and for the remaining questions, students had to answer either in paragraphs or lengthy essays in case of language papers.

So the department has planned to increase the number of objective questions from 25 per cent to 50 per cent in the term-end exams and introduce them in FA since most of the competitive exams were based only on objective-type questions. Moreover, it would not just be MCQs but also fill-ups, match-the-following and subject-specific one-mark questions.

While the former involves continuous assessment of students’ learning in scholastic and co-scholastic activities both in the classroom and in the extended learning environment, the latter involves assessment of learners’ scholastic attainment at the end of each term. This assessment is based on a blueprint comprising understanding, comprehension and application.

In this type of assessment, students can rarely answer a non-book-back question, as students are trained to answer these multiple choice questions printed at the end of every lesson in their textbooks, defeating the purpose of having a summative assessment. This won’t be of any help to the students in their Class X and XII Board exams either.

On the other hand, the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) consistently revise its syllabus and evaluation pattern. Consequently CBSE students from the State had an upper hand in national-level competitive exams which acted as a gateway for admissions into top engineering colleges and business schools, as said by R Vishalakshi, president of Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association.

To compete with students from CBSE and other boards in the coming years, it is essential to introduce these changes in the evaluation pattern so that students can equip themselves better in higher grades.

For the same, a blueprint was sent to all schools to prepare question papers, there were no hard-and-fast rules and schools are given the freedom to make minor changes in the pattern. A few private schools in the State have already implemented these changes. For instance, some have included questions like identify the marked parts (science), filling up timeline and maps (social science) for elementary and middle school students.

Though a few have welcomed this, educationists opined that changing the evaluation process without changing the content and the way in which it is taught was not going to help students in the longer run. Even if more one-mark questions were asked, teachers should help the children understand the concept and answer and not train them to memorise and repeat them in their exams.

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